What Is A Wireless Router?

So what is a Wireless Router and what is it used for? Basically it is a small electronic device that performs two different, yet closely related, functions in a computer network, which is used to connect different computers together or to the Internet, usually in the home.

[1] It acts as Router to connect two or more computer networks to enable the interchange or transfer of data between them.

[2] It also acts as a Wireless Access Point, which allows wireless communication devices to connect to a computer network using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and other similar standards.

Most often wireless routers used to enable access to either the Internet and the world wide web or to a local area computer network, but it does this (and this is the important bit!) without the need for any cables to form the connections.

In other words it allows these connections to be done without wires!

The most obvious and probably most popular use is to connect laptop and notebook computers at home to the internet from any room in the house without having to use cables. And these days almost every household with a broadband internet connection will use a wireless router to enable one or more computers in the house to connect to the Internet.

This are often referred to as a wifi system and connections to it from a computer require that the computer has a hardware device called a wireless network adapter installed to transmit and receive signals and data to and from the wireless router, which acts as the local interface to the Internet and everything else online.

A Wireless Router can function as part of a wired LAN, or local area network, or as part of a “wireless-only” LAN, and even in a mixed system of a combined wired and wireless network configuration.

Today most of the current wireless routers on the market will have some of the features below:

  • Some local area network Ethernet LAN ports for connection to personal computers by Ethernet cable.
  • A wide area network or WAN port used to connect to a larger network that has Internet access.
  • A wireless antennae which allows many connections from several other wireless devices in the home or office, such as wireless network adpater cards in laptop and notebook computers.

Most consumer purchased wireless routers are intended for home use and this is clearly where the biggest market is. This however can cause problems as the signal strength from the router may not be strong to penetrate through all the walls of the building to the rooms on the extremeties especially upstairs.

Some may have the opposite problem that the signal actually goes beyond the 4 walls of the house and interferes with the signal of another wireless router that a neighbor may have in their home. Also interference from other wireless systems, such as home CCTV monitoring and similar external security systems.

So when you go to buy make sure you understand the terminology and all the different things that can happen when you install a wireless router in your home!